Saying Goodbye To Mr. Hope

Friends, Family Share Bob Hope Memories in L.A.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former President Gerald Ford and former first lady Nancy Reagan were among hundreds of friends and family who attended a memorial Mass for comedian Bob Hope on Wednesday as Hollywood said farewell to its “king of jesters.”
Eulogies at St. Charles Borromeo Church, where Hope regularly worshiped until his death of pneumonia at age 100 on July 27, were delivered by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and TV producer Larry Gelbart, one of Hope’s long-time writers.
“His impeccable timing, on stage, backstage or on no stage at all, he was always at the top of his game,” Gelbart said, saluting Hope as “a king of jesters …. Like the best of his breed, Bob knew that life without laughter was life without parole.”
During a mostly somber service punctuated with lighter moments recalling some of Hope’s best lines, Gelbart drew the biggest laugh by recalling a telegram Hope once sent to one of his secretaries on her wedding night, containing just two words of advice: “Act surprised.”
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who presided over the two-hour Mass, said Hope lived up to his name.
“Through the humor that led to inner joy and peacefulness, he brought hope,” Mahony said. “He brought hope in the midst of turmoil, anxiety and uncertainty … His name is another element of who this great man was.”
Mahony said many stand-up comics come and go, but Hope’s legacy will endure. The cardinal recalled telling the one-time Protestant Hope that he should join the Catholic church, to which Hope replied: “I don’t need to become a Catholic because (wife) Dolores does enough praying for both of us.”
The British-born Hope converted to Catholicism in 1996, according to Hope’s longtime spokesman Ward Grant.
Myers spoke at length about Hope’s patriotism, saying the comedian was beloved by the military because it was clear that “he honestly and sincerely appreciated” the millions of troops he entertained.
“Bob Hope is an American hero … a hero to those who serve our nation. Bob hope is a hero to America’s heroes.”
Among the more than 500 people attending the Mass were close friends Phyllis Diller, who appeared in three of Hope’s movies, and Barbara Eden, who joined Hope on his last overseas show for U.S. troops during the 1991 Gulf War.
“To work with him was wonderful, to know him was truly wonderful, and I’m not just saying that because he’s dead. He was truly special and we’ll miss him,” Eden told reporters outside the church before the service.
Among other show business figures attending the Mass were Lonnie Anderson, Brooke Shields, Ed McMahon, Tom Selleck, Connie Stevens, and Raquel Welch.
Later on Wednesday, Hope was remembered at a special tribute at the nearby Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences, where a parade of celebrities delivered tributes and recalled memories and some of the entertainer’s greatest quips. Comedian Diller recounted two jokes that Hope liked to tell about her: “A peeping Tom threw up on my window sill” and “He was asked what my bra size was and he said ’34 long.”‘
Sid Caesar delivered a gibberish tribute to Hope in four “faux” languages and later many of the celebrities gathered on stage to sing Hope’s theme song, “Thanks for the Memory.”
Selleck told reporters he thought Hope would be most remembered for the “personal sacrifices” he made for his country.
“This guy worked every Christmas. Bob did it out of a sense of duty, and that may turn out to be his greatest contribution.”